Thank you for such a warm compliment, Torben. Much appreciated.
I like this place too. In my heart, I am a romantic fellow, and believe I was primarily drawn to straight razor shaving, because it has that romantic, artisan aspect. It's a quality that I also find in planting an apple tree, pruning and nurturing it with care during its first years, harvesting apples, brewing an excellent cider and distilling Calvados from the part you can't drink in time. Owning a wood stove, building the woodshed, honing the axe, felling trees, chopping wood during long Saturdays at early fall. Overhauling an old car engine. There was a time when fathers learned their sons how to do such things. Nowadays, car engines are filled with electronics that are locked with passwords at the factory, wood stoves burn pellets, distilling Calvados is illegal, and people shave with a 5 blade piece of marketing ploy.
Sometimes I miss being that old-time father (I've 2 daughters, and I try to teach them things, but their lives are often filled with modern stuff that so often lack heart). At other times, I miss being the son (My dad is a typical post-WWII child. He believes in progress. Gave me an electric shaving apparatus when I was 14. Told me to read the manual.
Anyway, I believe that straight razor shaving grants us the great opportunity to tap into the romantic artisan-ship I was referring to. We can come here to learn with the flabbergasted enthusiasm of a son at one time, and to share knowledge with the gratifying wisdom of a father, at another time. That is what I dreamed for this forum. And it differs from places where I often felt like being among quarreling brothers, battling to be on the highest pole in the coop.
Torben, you mentioned to Robin that I am strict in running this place. That is only partially true, for I am very lenient by nature. But to keep the atmosphere one that allows for the uncompromising exchange of information in the father-son sense, there are some things that I will oppose. I do that mostly in between the lines, but for once:O I will be direct:
1. "Acquisition Disorders". It used to be called "greed". Although I don't have collector's blood myself, I admire people who do. But building a collection is not the same as mindlessly giving in to an urge to own more stuff. All humans have this tendency to gather more stuff than we need/use. When we were living half-naked in forests many moons ago, most goods were so rare and precious that you better held on to whatever crossed your path. Today, that behavior, once separating the survivors from those who didn't make it, has turned many people on the Northern hemisphere into overweighted, greed-driven bums that refuse to see how they're exhausting the planet's resources. I constantly have to restrain myself from acquiring too much stuff (and too much weight
: ), and I guess we all loose a battle with ourselves sometimes. But I plan on winning the war. Because of that sentiment, it often dumbfounds me how the ruling tone on some forums has become one of bragging about greediness, disguised in the euphemistic term "acquisition disorder". If I had one, I would keep silent in shame. Now, this would all just be an annoyance, and I would shake my head in stoicism, if it weren't for the fact that loud voices are promoting the various Acquisition Disorders with the claim that all the items are needed for the ultimate shaving experience. That Razor X takes only his best edge on paste Y, applied to leather of the foreskin of an Elephantus Africanus. This is not what a father would tell his son. Because a father, in front of his son, does not seek to justify his own ways with sharing dubious information.
2. Business Reflexes. I believe communities (or even societies) die if they become overly occupied with the constant strive for commercial opportunities. I believe in a worldwide straight shaving community where new guys are welcomed with overwhelming goodwill to help the guy out. I consider it an ongoing disgrace that new guys must pay to have a razor sharpened. I see persons arrive at forums and within their 20th post, they are deploying commercial activity. All the sudden, what they post is subtly -or sometimes even bluntly- inspired by what they offer for sale. If you want an example how that influences the "knowledge" at the straight razor landscape: By 2006, the 4K/8K Norton was considered a complete setup for honing razors. If you wanted to be frivolous, or a bit tired of buying more razors (they were still cheap back then), you could purchase a Coticule or an Escher for a different finish. Today in 2010, you need a 1K, 2K, 4K, 8K, 12K and a felt strop with 2 grades of diamond spray to hone a razor. I see an analogy with the evolution from DE to Gillette Fusion. An evolution that was only driven by profit and marketing.
For this reason, I am strict about commercial activity on Coticule.be. It's free at the Marketplace (only a few basic rules apply), and strictly prohibited at the other sections. It's not easy to draw the line, because many of you come here to seek product information. In a way, all threads about the Vault are commercial threads. That is why I refuse to take profit on the hones. I could just as easily resell them, which would be easier for all of you, because the hones would be available immediately. And it would be very lucrative for myself. But I can't make rules that I don't follow myself, so the Vault will always function as it is. For full disclosure, I have purchased a few Coticules of my own. I'm going to sell those at the Marketplace, to partially compensate some of the costs I've made to run the Vault. So far, I drove 1500km in total on behalf of the Vault (and paid the fine for one traffic offense). Each time I drive up to Ardennes, I'm a full day unavailable for my family. The least I can do, is make up for the financial losses.
So now you guys know why this place is what it is.
I hope no one took offense.